Statement from Mayor Jim Kenney: 

“I appreciate that the latest news generates more questions than answers for the public. Our Administration is committed to uncovering these answers through a thorough independent investigation. As this investigation gets off the ground, the following is also underway:

  • As I’ve said previously, it is abundantly clear that improvements are necessary related to the operations of the Medical Examiner’s Office (MEO). We will be engaging experts in this field and are reviewing best practice, especially as it relates to racial equity. An overhaul of MEO policies and procedures is certainly on the table.
  • We are engaging diverse stakeholders related to how the MOVE bombing is commemorated in our city over the long term. This latest unfortunate incident will not be in vain if we use it as a catalyst for finally doing right by the victims of the MOVE bombing and their families.
  • We are initiating a national search for a permanent Health Commissioner and will continue to support Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole as she steps into the role on an interim basis. This recent development does not change anything relative to Dr. Farley’s resignation.

“The painful anniversary coupled with the mishandling of some of the victims’ remains renews the traumas of 1985 for many. During this very difficult time, I want to remind Philadelphians: You are not alone. Help is available. The Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services stands ready to support individuals and communities with a wide range of programs and services. Learn about some of our trauma and resilience services at Community Behavioral Health Member Services is available 24/7 to answer questions and help identify resources at 1-888-545-2600. As always, anyone experiencing a mental health crisis should call 215-685-6440 immediately.

“We are getting to the bottom of many different disturbing questions, including why these remains were held for decades, and why they were still held after being directed to be cremated. The remains can finally be returned to the next of kin and handled respectfully moving forward. I am committed to continuing to work closely with the Africa family and their representatives as this investigation continues.”